Living in the cloud
This past monday, Apple gave quite a long keynote at The Moscone Center during WWDC ’11. Some desperately needed iOS features, lots of OS X lion and, last but not least, moving to the cloud. It looks like it are going to be exciting times to be an Apple user.
iOS as it should be
iOS 5 is going to be the most important update of Apple’s mobile platform to date. It might just be that my fanboyism isn’t what it used to be but some of the announced features are so blatantly obvious I don’t think they need a big applause during a keynote. Things like the new notifications with the “slide down from the top” feature. Granted, it looks great and will be super efficient, but can we all admit that it’s almost exactly the same as what Android has had since it launched? Taking a picture with the volume up button? I’m sorry, but my Sony Ericsson did that back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great features, but they don’t really induce a big “keynote” applause in my case.
Another long awaited feature is task management. If it works as good as it looks and integrates as seamlessly with iCal as they claim, it looks like I can say goodbye to the 25 euro I spent on Things for Mac and iPhone. I’m especially looking forward to the location aware notifications (eg: “Don’t forget the milk” pops up when you’re about to pass your local super market). I know, Android fanboys, hold your horses. I know this sounds an awful lot like Locale.
A rundown of some other goodies you can expect:
- iMessage: what appears to be iOS-only WhatsApp like messaging integrated right into the OS.
- PC free: autonomous iOS devices: no more need for a computer to set up your device.
- Twitter integration: one time login in system preferences to rule them all + integration throughout the entire OS.
- Safari: tabbed browsing, reader (Focus on the text, remove all clutter. Already a feature in Safari for Mac).
- Wireless sync: more on that further down this article.
King of the OS world
The next version of your Mac’s OS has been talking to it’s iOS nephews. Lion will incorporate even more touch gestures for your built-in or external “magic” trackpad.Combine that with the new Mission Control that gives you a complete view of everything that’s happening on our and you’ve got yourself Exposé on steroids. More system apps (and I presume API will also provide it for third party apps) will have a full screen mode, keeping you focussed on the job at hand,. Be it writing a text in Pages, obtaining inbox zero in Mail or taking silly pictures of yourself in Photobooth.
A combination of a new feature called Launchpad and the Mac App Store you might already be using today is going to give your Mac even more of the iOS look’n’feel. Buying applications and browsing through them will feel just like you’re on the iPad. For me personally, it makes the OS feel a bit, well, childish I guess. I know the way forward is simplifying interfaces to be more efficient and accessible, but I’ll need to get used to it.
My favorite new features are Resume and Version. Whether you’re writing a text or editing a photo, Lion will allow apps to constantly save every move you make and provides the ability to browse through past versions of your document. Kinda like Time Machine but throughout the entire OS. After you’ve restarted the app takes you right back where you left off. Students are obviously going to have one less excuse to not get their papers done in time. Finally, I’d like to mention Airdrop, a nifty new feature that’s integrated into the Finder and allows you to transfer files to any Mac in your vicinity. You don’t even need to be on the same WiFi network. I’m interested to find out if they use WiFi or Bluetooth to airdrop (hence the name) an important business document securely into your collegae’s Download folder. Sharing files never was this exciting.
Some other stuff to look forward to:
- Conversations in Mail (Did anyone say Wave?)
- You’ll be able to receive FaceTime calls, even if you’re not running the app (Don’t worry, you can turn it off if you want to.)
- Full screen Screen Sharing
Goodbye MobileMe, hello iCloud
MobileMe has always been one of those service that, if you use it intensively, is immensely useful but, if you don’t, feels like a total waste of money. Soon, everyone will be able to enjoy Exchange for the rest of us without having to pay for it. Mail, calendars, contacts, documents, photo’s, you’ll be able to sync them between you Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod Tocuh without having to connect one single cable. On top of that, you can see all your past Music, Book or App purchases on all of your devices and download them instantly. Those purchases don’t even use your 5 GB of free cloud space. You can even set things up to automatically download new songs or apps you bought on your Mac to your iOS device(s).
The thing that’s got me excited though, is iTunes Match. For $25/year you sync up to 25.000 songs (even the ones you ripped from CD’s or got through some other sneaky way). Wirelessly over all your devices. You’ll even get Apple’s 256 kbps version of the songs you own. When you get to a charger in a WiFi hotspot, just plug in your device and the Cloud will do the rest. My biggest concern is whether SABAM and the Belgian music labels are going to block this feature just like they did with movies and shows on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, … you get the picture. Only time will tell …